Thursday, July 26, 2012

Too nice is not always nice

I've recently been reading quite a few blogs that are talking about book review bloggers and writing positive reviews.  It would seem that the majority of review bloggers believe that you should write a positive review of every book you choose.  I find that to be, honestly, dishonest.

Before I began blogging reviews, I spent a lot of time reading YA review blogs.  What I was floored by was that it was very hard to find one single book that any blog would be, in any way, negative about.  Everyone is bright, shiny and happy singing the praises of every single book reviewed.  C'mon!  You did not like every single book you read!  That's not possible!

So then I chose a couple of extremely popular bloggers to follow.  I followed them each for a long time and watched what they did and tried to figure out the whole blogging thing.  They all  mention that they have received more books than they can read from publishers.  I can only imagine that it's because every single one of their reviews are glowing recommendations.  Now, this is only my opinion, but that's not only dishonest (as you can't honestly like ALL of them) but seems to be a form of 'buying' books by giving ALL glowing reviews.

As you all know, I am honest in my reviews.  They are my opinions and thoughts and I feel free to share them with all of you.  I don't like everything I read, but I try to tell you why.  Maybe the characters weren't developed enough, maybe the plot didn't make sense, maybe it just wasn't my cup of tea.  Whatever the reason, I'm honest about it.

I've been told that I shouldn't write any negative reviews at all.  That's just not the way to get more books and to get publishers to send you books.  I guess that I look at it this way:  if an author or publisher chooses to send me a book (which quite a few do) then they appreciate the constructive criticism from an actual reader.  I've had authors send me their books and upon reading the review, email me and thank me nicely for my constructive criticism.  Now, whether or not they really appreciated it, I don't know.  BUT they were adult enough to simply say 'thank you'.  I don't do the reviews in order to get books.  I do them because I love to do it and I like to share my thoughts and I hope you, the readers, love - or at least like - to read them and have learned to trust me.  I do stay away from certain kinds of YA books, you won't see a lot of romance on here because I just don't care for it that much.  I would hate to give a book a poor review because I just don't like it.  In fact, sometimes I actually say 'here's what I didn't like, but maybe you'll like it'.  See?  That's nice.

I was discussing this issue with a popular YA author and she agreed with me.  She said that it bums her out to read that someone doesn't like her book, but other people do and it's ok.  Also, how are you going to know what you're doing wrong if people don't tell you?  How do you know if you suck or not?

It's great if your agent, editor, publisher and publicist tell you that you're amazing.  But really, it all comes down to what the public thinks.  Will your books sell or not?  If they don't, why not?  What went wrong?  Someone needs to be honest and I guess that will be me.  I'm comfortable being the one that doesn't post glowing recommendations of everything I read.  I think that in the long run, it will work out fine.  I may never have a million followers, but I'm being true to myself and honest with you and that's what matters to me.


  1. I have not published my first novel yet (november/december 2012 hopefully), and of course I hope people will like it, but I respect honesty and if a reviewer really feels they do not like it I want them to tell me so. Of course I expect that to be backed up with a reason as that's only fair. How else can we learn from our mistakes or discover what it is that readers like or don't like about our work?

  2. I don't read blogs that only post glowing recommendations of books and nothing else simply because I can't develop a basis for comparison for what they like versus what they don't and I ultimately can't trust what they say. When it looks like you love everything, well, you and I aren't going to see eye to eye.

    I understand people not wanting to make publicists cranky but based on what I've heard from authors and publicists alike they'd prefer honesty over pandering and they fully understand that not everyone is going to like what they read. Of course glowing recommendations help sell books but in what fashion? If people can't trust your review you can glow all you want. It won't help at the end of the day.

  3. I kind of agree with you. You see, I give my honest reviews! However, I usually really like the books I read. Maybe I'm just attracted to the genre of the books I read. If you see my reviews, most of them are rated 4 or 5 stars. But, if I don't like something, I just review and say why.

    Thanks for this post

    Adeeb @ Bookville

  4. Agreed. I'm not a book blogger, but I do the occasional review and while I tend to pick books I gush over, if something doesn't sit right with me, I'll point out the part i didn't enjoy. I really don't get why people seem to think reviews shouldn't be bad. It's not going to kill the book's sales. I've even bought books because of a bad review. It made me curious about how I'd react to the book.

  5. "I may never have a million followers, but I'm being true to myself and honest with you and that's what matters to me."

    Thank you. That's what matters to us too.

    Our blog, We Heart YA, is a place to discuss YA lit, not review books, so we are able to avoid this issue most of the time. We tend to pick topics and then use books we enjoyed to illustrate our points. But we do read a lot of book blogs, and whenever we find one that isn't afraid to be honest, even if it's not "positive," we treasure it.

    (We also try to be honest in our comments on book blogs, so sometimes we might seem "negative" there.)